The Forest Bride

A dream dress that I never knew about came to life through a lovely lady who trusted me to create her bridal vision.

The Forest Bride Gown

Alex contacted me through my website inquiring if I would be able to create a bespoke dress she loved for her wedding ceremony taking place in the woods by a waterfall. She wanted a gown with a renaissance feel, nothing wedding traditional, and with a romantic, unique, artistic appeal to it. When she showed me her inspiration gown, I gasped with excitement over the beautiful velvet gown with embroidered decorations on the front and back. Stunning!

She wanted to use velvet for the main fabric, with satin accents. And of course, the appliqués all over the bodice front and back, and extending into the skirt. So not to copy the inspiration dress exactly, she chose a royal blue velvet and a coordinating blue satin for the bands, accents and lining.

The lush velvet in royal blue

We got started right away on the project, having a consultation meeting to discuss her inspirations, her wants and desires out of the dress, fabric sources and pattern ideas. We also came up with a timeline for me to work back from, and I drew up her contract, cost of the dress, and a payment schedule.

I proposed using this dress pattern McCalls 7624 because of the front band neckline was similar to her inspiration dress:

McCalls 7624

Looking at the line drawings you can see how the front and waist bands are close to one of the main features she wanted out of the dress:

Line drawings of McCalls 7624 view B

I planned to make the following changes to the pattern to better match her vision:

1. Modify the skirt to not have any waist gathers, be a longer length, and have a slight train. I actually drafted an entirely new skirt pattern from scratch to achieve this.

2: Modify the waist bands to also wrap around to the back of the dress

3: Modify the sleeves to not have the opening, and also be a different shape and add a cuff.

I made the changes to the pattern and made a mock up in muslin.

The original sleeve pattern used to make a different sleeve shape
Slash and spread that sleeve!
A fashion illustration is always helpful, and fun!

At the fitting, I took in here and there, but the general shape she was going for was spot on

Getting fitted in muslin, trying out sleeve options and lengths
She already loves it, even in plain muslin

Once she received the fabric and embroidered appliqués she ordered, she brought them over and I made up the shell of the dress and basted it together for her to see it, and to have her place the appliqués where she wanted them on the dress.

The shell of the dress cut out, basted and pinned together

She came by, and using her artistic visions and talents, placed and pinned the appliqués on the dress as she had in mind.

We decided that the cuff in satin with 5 of the vintage buttons would look best

Planning out the button placement of the cuffs

And one button for the the back neck closure (I actually used two of the buttons and made loops here).

The placement of the flying crane appliqués has symbolic meaning

Once all the placement was confirmed, I carefully pinned the appliqués securely to the dress pieces and removed it from the dress form.

All of the appliqués pinned on already looks amazing
The dress pieces removed, separated and ready to be appliquéd

This is where the real work began. I spent literally hours, entire days, early mornings and late nights, sewing on each of the appliqués by hand. The vines took the most time as I sewed each leaf down to the velvet, then carefully trimming away the mesh backing from the appliqué.

Sewing down the leaves, one by one
Needle and thread, and trimming away the mesh from the appliqué
The cranes needed to be basted down first, then sewn down with tiny stitches, changing thread colors to match the areas, to the shifty velvet

With every step I completed, I kept the bride up to date with my progress how it was going (and also why it was taking so long!)

The appliqués were 90% completely sewn down

And on to the rest of the dress and the lining!

The long front bands
The dress is fully lined in lovely smooth satin.

The sleeves were a big deal as we wanted a slight puff at the shoulder, a drapey lower sleeve with a dramatic cuff with buttons and loops.

I created little “poufs” out of tulle to put into the sleeve head between the velvet and the lining. I made each pouf by cutting an oval shape out of the tulle, folded it and sewed it together to look kind of like a scrunchie or shower pouf, then sewing this to the shoulder seam on the inside of the sleeve. This trick turned out great to create the subtle lift to the shoulder

Creating the pouf
Sewing in the pouf
Shoulder with pouf

The light at the end of the tunnel was near (so was the wedding date!). The final touches included inserting the zipper, hand sewing the lining to the inside along the band, and the hem

And more hand sewing the lining

And sewing in my label of course

Sewn with love!

After the hem was made for both the dress and the lining, and little tacks sewn in to keep the lining in place, the dress was finally complete!

The dress front!
The cuffs! So pretty

I was naturally nervous as heck when she was on her way over to pick up her finished dress. She slipped it on and it was PERFECT! Yay!

This is the face of total delight!

I felt such a sense of relief that she was so happy with her dress! She looks and feels beautiful in it and that was my goal all along, that is success to me!

My Custom Dressmaking Process: From Start to Finish

Meet the Maker: Stephanie of Love, Stephanie

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have a custom dress or outfit made just for you? Have you thought that just buying something off the rack or from a website is good enough and will do for the occasion, but deep down (or not even that deep) you wish you could wear something that fit you perfectly, was made well, is a flattering color on you, and was something you would be comfortable, confident and proud to wear to your event and beyond? Do you want a great dress, top, suit or outfit hanging in your wardrobe that you can reach for again and again and just know it works? If you said “yes!” to all of the above, I would love to be the one to make this dream come true for you!

So, what does this process look like, how does it all happen and how long would it take? It’s this going to cost me an arm and a leg?

For those questions, the answer is: it all depends.

First off, I am a one woman operation (at least for now I am) and only have so much time in a day. My goals for my Love, Stephanie custom sewing business include creating quality, timeless apparel for special clients who recognize the value in a well made custom garment. I use fine quality materials and construction methods, I don’t take on rush jobs, and I don’t take shortcuts. That being said, that is what takes the time to perfect the fit, using smart construction techniques, and all of the education and sewing skills that I have learned over the years that rolls into the lead time and cost of a custom made garment.

That’s me! Stephanie of Love, Stephanie

Sound intriguing so far? Great! Read on and I’ll walk you through what my typical process looks like from the perspective that includes the client experience and what to expect.

We begin with an initial meeting where I get to know you better, what your ideas and visions are for your custom garment, what your lifestyle is like, and what mood or purpose you’d like to portray through the garment you’ll be wearing.

Initial Client Consultation

From there, I build a plan and a timeline to achieve the finished garment before your deadline and get started sourcing fabrics and pattern options that go into making your garment.

Going over sketches and fabric ideas

I like to create sketches, a mood board, and gather any other ideas and components that go into the creative process of making a successful garment, and share these with you along the way.

After our initial consultation meeting, I gather up all the information and write up a contract that includes all of your contact information, the deadlines, our design concept agreement, project components, costs and payment schedule for you to read over and sign. This is an important step as I want to ensure both of us are in agreement over all of the details in case any questions or concerns should arise.

Then the fun begins! I’ll take all of the body measurements I need from you and get started making the garment.

Taking measurements
Lots of measurements!

Using your measurements and a pattern, I cut out and sew up a simplified mock-up garment in muslin fabric to check fit, style preferences and to make sure you are happy with the basic silhouette before cutting into any fashion fabric. At times, an additional muslin, or part if it, needs to made and fitted again if there are a lot of changes that need a review before proceeding.

A mock-up fitting in muslin
I check for any fit issues that need to be corrected, and make sure you are happy with the style lines and length

Meanwhile, the fashion fabric that you want, including any lining material, trim and notions needed, is confirmed and purchased. I aim to use the best quality fabric that is within your budget (not included in the cost of my labor) as I truly feel that the fabric makes all the difference in the look and wear of a garment. I prefer to work with natural fibers such as cotton, wool, silk and linen, but will consider good quality man made fabrics to sew with such as rayon and synthetic blends.

Fabric choices are important in the outcome of a beautiful garment
Silk is my personal favorite!

Once the muslin is approved and the fabric is all here, I transfer any changes to the pattern, and start cutting!

The beautiful silk georgette is laid out and ready to cut
And sewn (silk is notoriously difficult to sew)

Most times, I have one last fitting of the garment in the fashion fabric to double check the fit, pin the hem, and work out any last details before delivering the finished creation.

From concept to creation!
Perfection!
The final fitting!

And that’s it! Easy, right?

Well done! Cheers!

In a nutshell, that’s the process in creating a unique custom garment, made especially just for you! No matter what size or shape you are, it’s an exciting and rewarding experience like no other.

Want to give it a go? Reach out to me and come on by my place with your dream garment vision and we’ll make it happen!

Welcome! Come on in!

A Birthday Gift to Myself

It’s my birthday and I wanted to take the time out of my busy sewing schedule to make something special for myself. This year, I chose underwear!

I have several bra and panty sewing patterns and kits that I have collected in hopes to sew up pretty underpinnings for myself or others. I just love the pretty laces and fabrics that go into making lingerie sand find that making them up brings me great satisfaction and joy.

For this project, I chose to make the Watson bra and bikini set from https://clothhabit.com/ that I downloaded and printed out in PDF format.

I had some nude colored stretch gallon lace, some mesh and lining also in nude, and the specialty elastics and findings needed to make this set already on hand, so I just got to cutting and sewing this asap to have done in one day for my birthday.

The materials

I cut the bra cups strategically so that the pretty scalloped lace edges would be featured on the front and bottom edge of the bra, as well as the bikini.

Cutting out the bra cups on the lace
The bikini pieces cut out

I cut the same pieces out of lining to give the bra some structure and modesty, and sewed them all together as instructed.

I used my serger for some of the seams, using my handy Wonder Clips so not to sew over any pins.

Serging the cup lining and lace edges
More serging, using Wonder Clips of course

I got about 1/2 way done, but then had to stop for the night and rest my eyes. Things were going quite well with both parts and I was quite happy to see it coming together, so I pinned what I had done so far to one of my dress forms and called it a night.

Making progress!

After only one broken needle and a little trouble sewing the shifty mesh and lace, I finally got it all finished in time to snap a few phots, shower and wear it out (under my clothes, of course) for my birthday dinner with my dear husband and a few close friends and family members.

Bra and Panty Completed!
It’s a little large for my tiny mannequin, but you get the idea…

Another great birthday make! Cheers!

Luxe Bomber: Worth the Wait

This little gem took me months and months to make, but the actual sewing took only a few weeks to complete. My biggest weakness when it comes to sewing is starting a wonderful and exciting new project, then something else shiny (or someone who’s paying) comes along and I set it aside for far too long. This baby was exactly one of those scenarios.

I love making jackets. They are a big part of my wardrobe and can be easy to sew. They are even easier to sew if you’ve made the same one before, as I did for this bomber jacket pattern. I used Simplicity 8418 pattern for the second time to create this beauty, and it is certainly not the last time.

Now, for the ingredients that make this recipe top notch, I used beautiful silk material, quality threads, and smart sewing techniques. The main fabric for this version I decided to finally use an end remnant of gorgeous silk jacquard labeled from Chanel that I won years ago in a fabric giveaway and was stashing for a special project. I also happened to have enough of a piece of silk lining-weight material in the perfect shade of purple to coordinate with the colors of the Chanel silk, also in my stash (If you don’t know me already, I have a very healthy stash of fabric in my possession).

Of course, I also had Pinterest to add to the inspiration for this creation, which made the decision to cut into this beautiful material more bearable, because after all, you only life once and you can’t take it with you. Here are just a few of the bomber jackets that inspired me:

I got right to cutting out the pattern pieces from the main fabric and the lining, as well as the light weight batting I used to quilt the silk to. The last time I made this pattern, I quilted the entire lining and left the outer side as it were. This time, I wanted the quilting to be part of the texture of the outer garment.

Well, I quilted part of the back of the jacket, and that’s about the time when I got busy with other pressing projects, paying clients, and teaching others to sew, so the jacket partially made and the cut pattern pieces was gently laid aside on the “to be continued” pile. There it sat patiently for months.

Fast forward to October of 2021 when I was planning to attend a conference that involved the professional sewing guild that I belong to, Association of Sewing and Design Professionals or ASDP for short.https://sewingprofessionals.com/. I knew that I wanted to wear garments that I had made to the convention and had a long wish list that I had wanted to create, but for the sake of time, and to tackle my growing pile of UFO’s that stare at me when I’m in my sewing room, and seem to beg for me to just work on them just a little bit, I revisited the silk bomber project and decided it would be a fantastic option for the convention.

Hence, the sewjo for this project sparked a new light in me and I got right back into the groove of quilting this baby and getting it going in time for the convention. Whatever the motivation was, it worked and I pulled through and finished the jacket in time to wear it a couple of times even before having to pack it up and fly to Boise, Idaho for the sewing pro retreat.

Well, the convention was amazing and I got a ton of compliments on my jacket which I was proud (and perfectly comfortable) to wear. Now I call that a job well done and worth the wait!

Red is The Color of Love

It’s been far too long since I have posted anything here on my beloved blog, so I thought it was time to update and refresh with a quick post. What better way to do that with a bright and exciting project that I made for myself for our first wedding anniversary!

So, here she is:

Red maxi dress with flutter sleeve and sash

I cut out and sewed this dress in three days during time after work hours and the weekend before our dinner date, so it was a bit of a rush job. Due to lack of time and general dressmaking laziness, I didn’t make a mock-up, I just went by my body measurements, comparing to the pattern measurements, and a mini tissue fitting (essentially holding the pattern tissue up to myself and eyeballing what I needed to adjust). I added 4 inches to the skirt length knowing I wanted it to be long enough to wear with heels and for it to be floor length. I may add more length next time so it really touches the ground. I also fully lined it (the pattern instructs to just line the bodice) and made French seams for the skirt side seams.

I just love how this dress turned out! It was so comfortable to just slip into, strap on some heels, a pretty necklace and earrings, a dab of Miss Dior perfume at my neck, and DONE!

Yes, I realize that I match my front door.

I used this Simplicity 8832 sewing pattern, view C, for this dress. I just love the simplicity of this pattern (ha, haa, meant to do that) and the lines of the dress design:

Line drawings of Simplicity 8832 pattern

What I am NOT so crazy about is how they styled the pattern cover. I think they could have chose a different fabric, or had multiple versions made up in different fabrics, to show off the designs of this pattern:

Simplicity 8832 Sewing Pattern Cover

I hope that I am not coming off as a snob. My apologies if I am offending anyone, but I just looks a tad, I don’t know, “old lady shower curtain” to me in this particular fabric:

Don’t get me wrong, I love a beautiful floral fabric for a light and airy dress such as this, but I was going for a look more like this:

Dark green floral dress

Or even this:

Gorgeous burgundy velvet dress

I suppose I can chalk this one up as a wearable test dress and can plan to make it again in a more luxe fabric for the next time. That is part of the beauty of knowing how to sew and make your own clothes. You get to be the designer and create your own vision! I just love that about sewing and it brings me a great deal of joy and satisfaction.

Meanwhile, happy first anniversary to my loving, cutie-pie husband! It’s been a wonderful first year and I look forward to many, many more!

Back to the drawing board and up to the sewing room as I have a few exciting new client projects that I am working on. Yay!!!

A Twinkle in His Eye 1955

My silk gown and reversible overskirt

This lovely creation all stemmed from a challenge. I belong to a professional sewing association, ASDP, that hosts an annual sewing challenge in conjunction with Threads Magazine.

For the 2022 Threads Challenge, we were to use a vintage pattern from the pattern archive at the University of Rhode Island as an inspiration.

I thought that this was quite fitting as both my father and I graduated from URI! My father graduated in 1954 and I was in the class of 1992. My parents met while my mother was in college at the University of Connecticut which was also in the 1950’s, so I thought I would choose a design that was popular during that era

Evening Ball Gown 1955
Dress with Overskirt

I also had this sewing pattern, the recently released version from McCalls, as well as the original pattern released in in 1955 from McCalls which I bought on eBay.

I could imagine that my mother would have worn a gown like this in her day as she was quite the stylish and elegant lady, so I kept her in mind and close to my heart as I planned out and sewed up this dress.

The original 1955 pattern release. I love the fashion illustration!
McCalls re-release of the style from their Archive Collection

I ordered 9 yards of the silk dupioni from Mood.com to ensure I had enough for the sheath dress and the overskirt. Once the gorgeous material arrived, I went to my local favorite fabric store and purchased enough material to line the dress in silk habotai, and also line the overskirt, which is not part of the patter, but something I wanted to add to catch the eye when wearing this already eye-catching dress.

The materials and patterns

I got to work making a mock-up in muslin of the dress and asked for help with the fitting from my go-to expert Marla Kazell.

Once I was confident with the fit of the dress, I got to work cutting out the fabrics and the new version of the pattern, McCalls 7897

Ready to cut into this spendy silk!

I sewed the dress up without much issue, using the pattern instructions to follow, and making it fully lined. The pattern has you create a facing for the inside edges which I thought wasn’t good enough, and fully lining the dress would make for a nicer finish in my opinion.

The work in progress

For the overskirt, I just made the printed silk organza lining out of the same pattern pieces and hemmed it to meet the outer red material before attaching it to the waistband strip.

The pattern also has a cummerbund as part of the look, but I left that off as I wanted to have the overskirt easily removable for the showcase of the garment. I have enough leftover silk to make the cummerbund, so perhaps one day I will make that as well.

I submitted my garment into the challenge, along with photos of the finished garment, a description of the dress, and the story behind why I chose this style and pattern, to the ASDP Challenge committee. Here are some photos that I submitted to the committee:

Front of dress wit overskirt
Back of dress with overskirt, and the lining peeping out
The dress and overskirt from the side-I love the volume!
Front of the dress, with the overskirt reversed, showing off the lovely floral print!
The sheath dress on it’s own, so sleek and elegant!

After several weeks, I got a notice that my submission had been chosen as a finalist in the challenge, and I was to send in or bring the dress along with me to the ASDP conference where all of the challenge finalists would be in the fashion show and the judges and audience would choose the winner. I was overjoyed to hear this news, and excited to share my make with fellow sewing enthusiasts that would be attending the conference in Baltimore, MD in October.

I packed the dress and overskirt in my suitcase, along with hand sewing needles, thread and a little sewing kit, and made it to the conference almost ready to submit my dress. I knew that I had to make some final sewing touches to the dress, and of course, left these to the very last minute! I still had to sew the lining down to the inside edges, at the shoulder and to the zipper, and hem the skirt lining. I did this all by hand, rushing through it in my hotel room at the very last minute, just in time to submit it to the contest committee for the final review. That, I believe, really hurt my chances of winning the challenge, as the judges of the challenge are expert seamstresses and would surely be examining my rushed and messy sewing up close.

The time came for the fashion show at the conference where dresses from past challenge winners, students and finalists from the 2022 challenge showcased their work to the audience of other conference attendees as well as anyone who wanted to attend the show. I modeled my dress, as I made it to fit myself, and got many ooh’s and ahhh’s on my completed look! I was next to last in the runway line up, standing proudly amongst some other amazing creations and works of art. I felt so honored to have been a finalist in the challenge, yet a little disappointed I didn’t win any of the challenge prizes for the work that I did.

I love my dress and am OK with not being the winner. I just wish I had snapped a photo of me wearing it or asked for a photo from the fashion show! There was a photographer there throughout the show, so I am sure I’ll get some photos of me in it eventually.

I put time and effort into my creation, and know that it wasn’t perfect, certainly not up to the standards of expert seamstresses or for the editors of a nationally published magazine such as Threads. Am I disappointed in myself? Yes, certainly, as I had the time to do a much better job with the finishings of the garment. However, I am very proud that I was chosen as a finalist, and have learned a great deal about the level of workmanship that needs to go into a project that would be chosen by a contest judge.

After the Threads challenge winner was chosen for her wonderful workmanship and design, they announced the theme of the 2023 Threads challenge for next year. This time, the challenge consists of designing a piece of outerwear that is inspired by a 2-dimensional piece of art. What an amazing challenge! Since I didn’t win this year’s challenge, I am eligible to enter the next one, so with that, I think I’ll go for it! Now, to find some inspiration and start planning what I can make…and DO IT! That’s the new challenge!

Modeling my creation!

Cocoon Coat for A Goddess

One of my very favorite people on this planet is my beautiful friend Julie. She is a Goddess in my eyes. She has the biggest heart, is always cheerful and gives all of herself all of the time. Julie is a 2-time breast cancer survivor and is the strongest woman I know.

Julie had the opportunity to travel to California for a ritual retreat with a group of good witches. She would share stores, rituals and positive vibes with her sisters, and she wanted to dress the part and feel fabulous. She asked me if I could make her a special garment for her retreat, on short notice, and showed me her inspiration photo

Inspiration Robe in moss green velvet. So pretty!

GASP!!!! Yes!!!

I had to find a way (and the time) to make this amazing dressing robe for my dear friend, no question.

You see, this robe design goes way back to the early part of the 20th century by means of the artist and fashion designer Paul Poiret in 1910. And you know, I LOVE me some fashion history!

Quoting from the pattern envelope that I used to re-create this coat, appropriately named the Cocoon Coat, here is a little snippet about the designer and the history of the popular coat style:

“Paul Poiret (1876-1944) is generally recognized as the first “modern” fashion designer, and his influence on 20th-century fashion was profound. It is Poiret who is most remembered for freeing women from 19th-century corsets, although he then hobbled them with extremely narrow skirt hems, and for modernizing the Victorian silhouette. As the Parisian designer explained, “I like a plain gown, cut from light and supple fabric, which falls from

the shoulders to the feet in long, straight folds, like thick liquid, just touching the outline of the figure and throwing shadow and light over the moving form”

The fully lined Cocoon Coat offered here was designed around 1913-1919. It features batwing sleeves, one-piece front/back body, neckband, and a hobble skirt.”

Folkwear Pattern #503, http://www.folkwear.com
https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection

Julie found this perfect pattern on of Poiret’s design from Folkwear patterns on Etsy, purchased a copy, and had it sent by express mail to me as soon as we agreed on the project and came up with the project plan, timeline and signed my contract agreement. We met up a few days later at the fabric store, and she purchased some gorgeous velvet and satin and we got started making the coat!

Because Julie is such a bright, happy and colorful person, she chose a bright, happy pink to have her cocoon coat made in! Deep pink velvet with a hot pink satin lining was the perfect choice for Julie as it went with the outfit she was planning to wear under the coat (pink French lingerie, of course!), her pink-streaked hair, all for the temptress alluring witch vibe she was going for!

Temptress Vibes. Nailed it!!!

Once I received the pattern Julie ordered, we set up a session to start making the robe together. We only had a couple of week’s time to get it done in time for her to pack it for her trip, so I took all the help and time she had to offer.

Although this pattern seems to be complicated to make with the batwing sleeves and the long, draped back, it is really just two very large pattern pieces, one left and one right side of the coat, with a seam down the center back and a seam pulling the sleeve together while simultaneously creating the draped shape. You cut 2 of the outer pieces and 2 for the lining, and the neck band.

We got to cutting out the enormous pattern pieces on the floor of my sewing room, trying to make sure everything was flat and not shifting as we cut, which was no easy task. We did the best we could with the space and tools that we had, and didn’t worry too much about perfection.

Sewing this baby was not easy either. Velvet is notorious for being difficult to sew as it shifts and slips and doesn’t like to be pressed or un-stitched if you make a mistake. Satin isn’t much better. Throw in the fact that the pieces to be sewn together are HUGE, and I was running out of time, so I didn’t have time to fuss and fiddle with it.

I kept Julie informed with my progress with photos of what I had done and when I expected to be finished. The coat did come together fairly quickly even with all of the setbacks and really started to look quite special and amazing!

The lining! Love it
Making progress with the coat, and imagining it with this awesome pink strappy bootie!

As the coat was taking shape and I was nearing the finished project, I took the time to try to capture photos of it. The photos certainly don’t do it justice on a dress form as the color is all wrong for one thing, and you really see the drape and shape of the coat on a person, but it still looked pretty dang awesome!

The front of the coat and the reflection of the back

As I finished the coat just in time to deliver it to Julie on her way out of town for her event, I made sure to sew a label in it to remind her of me and my presence on her back whenever she wore it.

Made with Love

Here’s Julie’s take on our Cocoon Coat adventure:

Cocoon Coat!

“The Cocoon coat was made from a Poiret pattern, and a style popular in the ‘20’s.

I was creating an outfit for a branding photo shoot, and what came to me was the Goddess. I googled Goddess robe and came across a modified cocoon coat, and another with an amazing headpiece and so this vision was born. I immediately called Stephanie and told her I was so damn excited and all of the deets!!! This coat would bring to life my vision of the Goddess, a facet of me, of my magic and beauty.

We selected the fabric, an amazing dark garnet pink color, crushed velour, with a brilliant pink satin for lining. The trim is a black almost rhinestone.

The coat is luxurious and alluring, timeless and makes me feel glamorous. As the Goddess, i wore the coat with my wedding lingerie underneath, bra, panties, garter and pink backseam stockings –

The coat is also something that could be worn as a coat for a glamorous evening out, or an intimate evening in, its so soft, and just envelops me in glowing pink, warmth and I feel like a movie star, the custom creation brought my vision to life and is a timeless statement piece that will remain in my wardrobe forever”

Julie Papke, September 2, 2022

Thank you so much for your thoughts on our process Julie! I loved working with you and creating this special coat just for you. I hope you love it forever!

Julie absolutely is magical in her Cocoon Coat and special sexy outfit, perfectly accessorized with cool boots and a crown.

Julie performs her magic!

A Tall Drink of Style

Suzanne demonstrates her Tall Drink of Style in her new Love, Stephanie coat!

Suzanne and I go way back, 37 odd years in fact. All the way back to freshman year in high school where we carpooled to school with our moms and a few other students living in Concord and Bedford who also attended our school Lawrence Academy in Groton, Massachusetts. It is a small, private college prep school on a beautiful campus where the classes were small and everybody knew each other.

Fast forward to modern times where we keep in touch with old friends and family through social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. That is precisely how I’ve reconnected with Suzanne and many other friends from childhood, high school and college days.

Ever since I’ve been connected with Suzanne (she used to go by Suzy), she’s been a wonderful fan and always excited to see and comment on what I’m currently sewing. A few times she’s even commented like “I just love what you’re creating!” and “someday I love for you to make something for me!” which is such a wonderful and flattering comment to hear, and more and more, something I’d like to achieve full time. Custom clothes making for clients and even more, a fashion line of my own.

Well, one garment and one client at a time, I’m starting to see this dream come to life. So far in 2022 alone, I already have 8 clients that i have already, or am currently working on creating custom garments for, plus have several bridal and special occasion alteration projects, a re-fashioning project in the works, other special makes on the list. Unfortunately I have had to turn away several potential clients as I am simply too busy to take on more.

I’m also am working with an amazing business coach who is helping , me get organized, set goals, focus on my brand and core client profile, continuing education and skill development, plus I’m building a new website and branding refresh. I expect this is going to be a great year for my business and continuing growth on the horizon. So yay!

Back to her! Suzanne saw the lovely leopard coat I made for myself and that was the one for her! She reached out to me and asked if she could commission me to make one just like it for her. Of course I was delighted that she asked and jumped on the offer.

I got to work right away to plan out the process and set up a meeting to discuss all of the options and details that go into making a coat for someone other than myself. We started with a zoom meeting to talk and actually speak to each other after all these years. I made a PowerPoint presentation as I like to do for any new client, to help explain her pattern and fabric options, talk and demonstrate more about the details she would like, and my pricing levels that depend on the components, the time, and the level of difficulty. I also include my work process and a timeline with milestones and deadlines.

A screen shot of some of my PowerPoint slides

Suzanne loved the presentation and chose the style and fabrics right away, knowing she wanted a coat just like mine with just a few customizations.

My version of this amazing coat!

I sent her some fabric swatches in the mail so she could touch and feel the lovely and soft hand of the high quality materials I’d be using to make her coat. The only differences she wanted from my version was black silk lining and a slight different collar shape.

Butterick 6385 pattern
The leopard print wool blend coating material

I also asked her to take body measurements according to a handy chart that I also sent over. We scheduled another Zoom meeting once she had the fabric swatches and measurements ready to confirm everything before I got started making a mock up in muslin for the fit and style review.

As soon as I was done sewing up the muslin of the coat, I mailed it to her and asked her to contact me as soon as she received it. She sent over some photos of her in the muslin which was great and a perfect prelude to our Zoom meeting which followed shortly after

So far, so good!
Even just in muslin it looks great on her!

With just a few changes to make to the pattern after our Zoom meeting, I immediately got to work cutting out her coat in the fashion fabric. This honestly took the most time and careful organizing with precise cutting, carefully transferring the pattern markings such as the darts, notches and matching points, and also doing the same to the flannel underlining layer (which was going in between the fashion fabric and lining) for warmth and added “body” to the outer material, and also the silk lining. Time consuming to say the least, but this step is a really important part of making a successful garment.

The coat fabric, laid out right sides together, pattern pieces anchored down on grain and prepped to cut out

So, I sewed and I sewed (and I sewed some more!), all the while keeping her posted with my progress, trying hard to meet my deadline to get it to her in time to wear it this winter.

Installing lace hem tape as part of the finishing
Hand sewing the hem to the flannel underlining
Of course, my Love, Stephanie label had to be beautiful and stand out!

After many long sewing hours and late nights hunkered down in front of my sewing machine and pressing table, I was so excited to finally finish the coat, pack it up, and ship ‘er out!

All packed up and ready to ship across the USA!

The coat arrived in perfect time for Suzanne to model for her new business launch of a fashion stylist in the Boston area appropriately named A Tall Drink of Style

Looks soooo good on her!

Check out her new business endeavor and give her a follow here on Instagram https://instagram.com/atalldrinkofstyle?utm_medium=copy_link and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/atalldrinkofstyle/photos/a.102674092375020/102673925708370/?type=3p

A Tall Drink of Style logo

I so happy for Suzanne and her new chapter in life, and I am incredibly flattered that she asked me to represent her style in a custom garment creation for her new business!

Now, that’s a tall drink of style!

Stay tuned for more great style and trend ideas from Suzanne, plus in collaboration with me, even more fashion and wardrobe ideas!

Ciao for now!

Fringe Benefits

I’ve been thinking about making a kimono like this for a long time. I’ve made a couple of them for myself in the past, had some lovely material on hand that was perfect for this style, and have a current client that I am making a manly version for as well, so the time was right to just go for it.

My fringe velvet kimono

Many of my ideas stem from images I find down some rabbit hole also known as Pinterest. I have a few pins to share, but these are just a few to spare you the boredom (and to save you some of your own Pinterest time suck):

Velvet Kimono with Fringe
Another Velvet Kimono with Fringe
Catch my drift?
My kind of outfit

So, with this amazing silk burnout velvet that I had purchased from Mood Fabrics on hand all I needed was some fringe for the hem and binding for the edges.

I really like Simplicity patterns for straightforward and uncomplicated patterns like this one Simplicity 1108, one of their Easy-to-Sew patterns. https://www.simplicity.com/simplicity-storefront-catalog/patterns/brands/simplicity/simplicity-pattern-1108-misses-kimonos-in-different-styles/

Using a simple pattern like this one it didn’t take long and was truly easy to sew. I used view D and added trim and wide binding to the sleeves:

Simplicity 1108 pattern

The most difficult bit for this little number was the fabric. The velvet wants to shift and dodge around while sewing, and the fact that it was silk also made it tricky and delicate to manage. Sewing on the binding was the pits as the two slippy materials did not want to behave and it just shifted all over the place.

Then there came applying the fringe and many inappropriate swear words were used. Ugh. I had to sew it on carefully by hand as my sewing machine refused to cooperate or participate in that nonsense.

Now I can appreciate why these kinds of little tops are so expensive. Yes they are simple garments, but MAN, all of the above factors really take a toll on one’s patience! Plus that fringe was not cheap, much less that fabric.

Well, as usual, the time and effort paid off and I now have a lovely and special top I can just slip on over a nice tee and jeans, or my leggings and I’m ready!

Luxe Leopard Coat

I had Dior in mind as I made this coat, with the yummy brushed wool fabric, the sumptuous silk satin lining, and the classic, tailored details, all brought me back to an era of glamor and sophistication of the 1940’s and ‘50’s.

Leopard print coat

I initially started making this coat back in October 2020, taking the time to ask my friends on Instagram which lining color they liked with the print. I ultimately chose bright red as I thought it had the best “pop”, but any one of them would have been gorgeous!

My favorite lining options for my coat, all choices in silk:

Well, as usual for me, I eagerly started working on sewing up this gorgeous coat using Butterick 6385 pattern buy cutting out the pattern tissue, tissue fitting myself to check fit, cutting out the fashion fabric, the lining and a flannel underlining for warmth. I even made a few of the first seams, including the pockets (which end up being way too small.

Note to self: next time, make the pockets bigger!

Butterick 6385 pattern from Lisette

I chose view C with the stand up collar and the rectangle pocket flap of view A.

I got to cutting out all the pattern pieces before I realized that there was a good chunk of fabric missing from the upper sleeve that would leave a huge gaping hole if I attempted to ignore it, and I didn’t have enough of the fabric left to cut the piece again. To boot, the fabric store where I got the fabric also didn’t have any of exactly the same fabric left in stock. Grrr!

So, with the air deflated out of my sewjo, I rolled up what I had done so far, and added the coat components and pattern to my “to be continued” pile and there it sat for a better part of a year. “Le Sigh”

As part of my new life goals that I have set for myself recently, at least my sewing life goals, I want to tackle my unfinished projects, finish them, and clear the decks (and my mind) to focus on new personal and client projects to work on. So, with autumn in the air and this project staring me in the face and making me feel guilty about wasting time and resources, I figured out how to fill in the missing chunk at the sleeve by using fabric glue (gasp!) and scraps from the cuttings which I always save, and got right back into making this coat

Sewing the lining, which I serged all of the edges when I originally cut out the pattern. Thank goodness I did because this silk stuff frays like a mofo

I sewed and sewed with newfound energy for this coat, staying up late and ignoring my hungry husband. He’d survive, but I couldn’t until this darn coat was DONE!

Here’s a shot of the coat just before installing the lining, showing the interior interfacing and underlining in camel flannel for warmth and extra stability to the fashion fabric

Flannel underlining and interfacing inside the coat just before adding the lining.

I skipped the shoulder pads and sleeve heads as I felt I really don’t need them, however that is one step that I probably should have done. Next time…

Setting in the lining and going the finishing touches on the coat, some by hand, was starting to turn the corner and approach the end. I took a good amount of time pressing and pinning this baby into submission, all which made it easier to sew and have professional looking results:

Hand sewing some parts always looks better (my sausage fingers would not agree)

After finally finishing the coat, sewing buttonholes and buttons, I was finally DONE!

Aren’t those buttons cute? They kind of look like the spots on the leopard print!
The red silk lining makes my heart happy!

I knew that I wanted to take some great photos of this creation for sharing on social media, and have many examples and inspiration photos from my Pinterest page such as these images:

I asked my dear fashionista friend if I could borrow a few of her gorgeous designer handbags for the photos and she was so sweet and generous to lend me some of her favorites for a few days. I narrowed down the options to these three I’m accessorizing with the coat:

A gorgeous Loewe structured tote in camel
A classic quilted Yves St Laurent chain handle
bag in black
A stunning Sophie Holme red clutch

I’ll just shut up now and let Her speak for herself…

Aaaaand, scene….

Ok, I’m now ready, the decks are clear for takeoff…

Floral Silk Girly Dress

Whenever I have been invited to an occasion, the first thing I think of is “what am I going to wear?”. The next thing I think of is “what can I sew for myself to wear” as I love to make clothing and I love wearing things that are unique and nobody else has in their closet. From there, I pull up my pattern stash archive, pay a visit to my fabric stash (or the fabric store if I really don’t have the appropriate fabric to work with) and get started planning and sewing my outfit.

For this occasion, I was invited to a wedding of a lovely bridal alterations client who had become a friend over our many dress fittings and consultations of her beautiful wedding gown. The major part of her dress that I altered was her complicated and intricate bustle of her train that I she dreamed up and I created for her. Originally, as I fiddled and fussed to get her train bustled just right at one of her fittings, I said to her “I’ll just hide in the bushes at your wedding venue, you give me the signal when you are ready, and I’ll sneak out and help you bustle, then disappear back into the bushes and let you be on your way to the reception”. She would have none of that and insisted that I attend the wedding as her guest, and enjoy the entire ceremony plus be ready to bustle…DEAL!

So, being the alteration seamstress of honor at this wedding, I just had to have something special and handmade to wear! Not having all the time in the world to be sewing for myself with the very busy post-Covid wedding season upon us and other alterations and custom sewing client projects literally piling up in my sewing studio, I decided to make a dress that I have made before (a huge time and energy saver!) and use fabric that I had in my stash from Mill End Store in Portland, OR.

I pulled out this lovely pattern from Butterick that I had already cut out and made fit alterations to the pattern for a dress that I made a couple of years ago:

Butterick 6554 pattern

I made view C, the halter neck, ruffled and flounce dress that wraps and ties to the side.

This time around, I decided to fully line the dress (instead of using the bodice facing from the pattern), meaning I cut out the entire dress, the bodice and the skirt pieces, less the flounces, in both the outer, floral silk georgette fabric and the silk lining that I also had in my fabric stash. Cutting silk, especially sheer, floaty slippery silk, is NOT easy if you’ve ever tried. It slips all over the place and misbehaves in as many ways as it can, just to drive you nuts and practically give up before you even started. But, since it was SO pretty and soft, I did my best to battle it and tackle it into submission, knowing in the end it was going to be incredible and worth it all.

The silk draped so innocently on my dress form
Anchored down and ready to cut!

So the sewing begins!

Making a tiny hem to the ruffled edge

It all went pretty well and the fact that I had made it before, I knew what to expect from the pattern instructions.

The most difficult and time consuming part was making the narrow hem on the long outside edge of the flounce that would be attached at the bottom of the skirt. Check out this pattern piece that is over 110 inches long. Yikes!

After tackling that beast, the dress was nearly done and I could start to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Having a major deadline to hit, and other clients banging down my door and begging me to help them with their last-minute bridal requests, I finished up my dress and just got ‘er done.

One last thing I added to the dress was lightweight foam bra cups sewn into the bodice lining as that sheer stuff certainly wasn’t going to hide my bits. Thank goodness I had some on hand in my supply stash and I was able to swiftly hand sew them into my dress, no problem! Confidence boosters for boobs-horray!

Bra cups sewn in saved any wardrobe malfunctions!

I just have to share the insides of the dress with the lovely silk lining!

Here I cheated and used my serger to attach the waist of the bodice to the skirt and hide the raw edges.
The skirt lining that ends just above the flounce

So off we went to the wedding, leaving enough time to stop at one of our favorite spots in the wine country of the Willamette Valley in Oregon, The Allison Inn and Spa, to snap some photos and have a glass of champagne and a light cheese plate before the wedding. Perfect!

Let’s go up there, that’s where the champagne is served!
The lovely snack we shared over a glass of wine and champagne!
Watch that breeze!

As much as I enjoy the entire process of making a new dress, it feels so good to be done with this one, wear it to a fun wedding (and not have to hide in the bushes!) and hang it up on my wardrobe for another occasion.

Until next time, cheers!